When the past is present…
Search the site
When the past is present…
ABHM is collaborating with the Zeidler Center for Public Discussion in their “Building Thriving Community: Beyond Segregation” Community Dialogues.
This dialog project is the response of our two organizations to the yearning for deep conversations on this topic that we’ve both experienced this year. Milwaukee is the most hyper-segregated urban area in the nation and has the largest black-white employment gap. Wisconsin has the highest black male incarceration rate and also has the poorest record of protecting the well-being of African American children in the country. (See the Report Card to get the full stories behind these facts – and many more.)
The dialog will take place in small groups of five and will be led by facilitators trained in managing civil discourse around tough topics.
When: July 30th, 5:30-8:30pm
Where: In a Riverwest arts facility (TBA)
How: To reserve your place, you MUST RSVP (include your phone #) no later than July 23rd to firstname.lastname@example.org (copy and paste this email address into your email program). It’s filling up fast!
There is no charge for dinner and dialogue, but free will offerings to defray ABHM’s food costs will be accepted. Please plan to stay for the entire two and a half hour program.
We look forward to being in conversation with you on July 30th!
ALBANY, Georgia (AP) — The first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, Alice Coachman Davis, died early Monday in south Georgia. She was 90.
Davis’ death was confirmed by her daughter, Evelyn Jones.
Davis won Olympic gold in the high jump at the 1948 games in London with an American and Olympic record of 1.68 meters, according to USA Track and Field, the American governing body of the sport. Davis was inducted to the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1975 and was inducted to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004.
“Going into the USOC Hall of Fame is as good as it gets,” she told The Associated Press in a 2004 interview. “It’s like Cooperstown, Springfield and Canton,” she said, referring to the sites of other prominent Halls of Fame.
Davis was the only American woman to win a gold medal at the 1948 games. According to Olympic historian David Wallechinsky, Coachman was honored with a 280-kilometer motorcade in Georgia when she returned from London. However, the black and white audiences were segregated at her official ceremony in Albany.
Recollecting her career in the 2004 interview, Davis speculated that she could have won even more Olympic medals, but the Olympics weren’t held in 1940 or 1944 because of World War II. She retired at age 25 after winning the gold medal in London.
“I know I would have won in 1944, at least,” said Davis. “I was starting to peak then. It really feels good when Old Glory is raised and the National Anthem is played.”
Davis attended Tuskegee University and also played basketball on a team that won three straight conference basketball titles. She won 25 national track and field championships — including 10 consecutive high jump titles — between 1939 and 1948, according to USA Track and Field.
Growing up in the deep South during the era of legal segregation, Davis had to overcome multiple challenges.
The New Georgia Encyclopedia says she was prohibited from using public sports facilities because of her race, so she used whatever equipment she could cobble together to practice her jumping.
“My dad did not want me to travel to Tuskegee and then up north to the Nationals,” Davis told the AP. “He felt it was too dangerous. Life was very different for African-Americans at that time. But I came back and showed him my medal and talked about all the things I saw. He and my mom were very proud of me.”
Davis won her first national high jump title at age 16, according to USA Track and Field, and worked as a school teacher and track coach after retiring. An elementary school in her home town is named in her honor and opened in August 1999 according to Dougherty County schools officials.
Vera Williams, a secretary at Meadows Funeral Home in Albany, said Meadows will be handling Davis’ memorial service, but plans haven’t been finalized yet. Davis’ cause of death was not immediately disclosed.
Read full article here
More Breaking News here
I recently added a new name to my list of inspirational writers: Janet Mock. Her best-selling memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More, is a beautiful—at times bumpy—journey through girlhood. Reminiscent of Zora Neale Hurston’s iconic Their Eyes Were Watching God, it is a touching story of self-realization and self-love.
For many it was Mock’s early 2014 interview on CNN with Piers Morgan that drew attention to this young woman’s story. But she is so much more than one interview. Mock publicly proclaimed her identity as a transgender woman in 2011. She has continued working in her community to advocate for women and girls like herself. She has commanded a social media presence through the #GirlsLikeUs hashtag, encouraging transgender women to live freely.
After her many successful years as a staff editor at People.com, writing and advocacy have continued to be her main motivation. Most important, Mock has challenged us all to question our perceptions of challenges facing transgender girls and women of color. She spoke with The Root about her work and how words empower isolated communities.
The Root: Isolated communities of color have been on the forefront of awareness when it comes to issues of gender identity; everyone else seems to be lagging behind. Do you think these communities will lead the social charge for trans people of color—people of color in general—when it comes to differences from the mainstream?
Janet Mock: All of our forebearers—when you think about queer and trans people of color—have always been at the forefront of movements of resistance. I think about Marcia P. Johnson, I think about Audre Lorde. These people have been a part of intersecting movements for so long because they have never had a place. When you never have a place in movements that are supposedly about you, you tend to look at them from an outsider’s perspective. You can tell people about themselves in a way that is powerful and also transformative.
Read full article here
More breaking news here
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — More than 60 Nigerian girls and women abducted by Islamic extremists two weeks ago have managed to escape, officials said Monday, though more than 200 girls who were kidnapped in April remain missing.
Nigerian security forces and federal government officials had denied reports of the mass abduction from three villages in the northeast state of Borno on June 22.
Chibok local government chairman Pogu Bitrus said Monday he had verified that about 60 women and girls escaped on Thursday and Friday by sending a representative who met with some of the escapees and their families at the hospital in Lassa, a town in the neighboring Damboa local government area.
Vigilante leader Abbas Gava in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, said Sunday that vigilantes in the area told him 63 women and girls escaped Friday while their captors were engaged in a major attack on a military barracks and police headquarters in Damboa town.
Small-scale kidnappings by Boko Haram extremists had been going on for months when they drew international condemnation for the abductions of more than 200 schoolgirls from a school in Chibok town of Borno state on April 15. Some 219 of those girls still are missing.
Read full article here.
Read more Breaking News here.
From SNCC leaders to Freedom School organizers, these are their stories.
It’s well-known that 1964’s Freedom Summer, as it came to be called, was an interracial effort, with many white college students joining African Americans to register voters in Mississippi. It was the murder of three civil rights activists—two of them white—by members of the Ku Klux Klan that sparked national outrage and drew national attention to the struggle for access to the ballot. Ironically, thanks to a racially biased press, it was those murders and the presence of nonblack activists that many believe earned the work the headlines it deserved. From Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee leaders to Freedom School organizers, here are some of these activists’ stories…
Click here to read short bios and see photos of these 10 white allies you should know:
1. Heather Booth
2. Dr. June Finer
3. Frank Cieciorka
4. Mary King
5. Miriam Cohen Glickman
6. Casey Hayden
7. Howard Zinn
8. Constance Curry
9. Marshall Ganz
10. Mario Savio
For more Breaking News, click here.
While many in the civil rights movement community this summer are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, another important half-century milestone—and a significantly blacker, more radical one—was recently acknowledged in New York City: the founding of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, Malcolm X’s political organization.
Malcolm X, founder of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), was a tremendous radical during the time of Civil Rights, however his recently published diary depicts various goals of his like educating African leaders about the plight of African American in America.
If Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of domestic social equality turned into a nightmare, Malcolm’s vision for black Americans to join the international community of Africans as an anti-Western bloc was quickly stifled with his 1965 assassination. The OAAU—patterned after the OAU, the Organization of African Unity—represented Malcolm’s domestic and international potential, a painful addition to the pile of 20th-century black historical what-ifs.
“Brother Malcolm was internationalizing the movement,” said event organizer A. Peter Bailey, who was only in his early 20s when he edited the OAAU’s newsletter, The Blacklash. “He was on a conscious effort to connect the struggle against racism in America to the struggle against colonialism internationally, especially in Africa.”
The OAAU event, which took place on June 28—the to-the-day 50th anniversary—at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center (the former Audubon Ballroom, where Malcolm was assassinated), came in the wake of a newly published diary of Malcolm X. The book, edited by journalist-historian Herb Boyd and writer Ilyasah Al-Shabazz, one of Malcolm X’s six daughters, is called The Diary of Malcolm X: El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, 1964. Finally freed from scholarly microfilm, the diary has been the subject of a court case between the authors and the publisher, Third World Press, and Malcolm’s other five daughters, who did not sign off on the book’s publication.
Malcolm’s diary paints the picture of a man eager to find his religious and political centers. Most of the first half of the book details his much-talked-about trip to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, while the second half—which takes place after the OAAU founding in New York—is more about his travels to Africa, where he meets more than 10 heads of state and is treated like a de facto ambassador of black America.
Fifty years ago this Wednesday, July 2, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act into law at the White House. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a bevy of politicians crowded around him, taking in the historic moment, as significant as any in advancing American race relations since the end of the Civil War. Although the struggle for voting rights would continue for another year (and beyond), the 1964 Civil Rights Act dealt a severe blow to Jim Crow-style segregation in public schools and accommodations. At least as a matter of law, it forbade forevermore discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” It was, as Sen. Everett Dirksen famously quoted the writer Victor Hugo, “an idea whose time [had] come.” But it was anything but inevitable.
Unfortunately, since then, we’ve had to endure the long and silly debate over which man deserves more credit for the bill’s passage through the House and Senate en route to the president’s desk: Johnson, the political animal inside the White House, or King, the charismatic civil rights leader at the forefront of the march outside it. The fact is, both men were critical. And by setting up the debate in this way, we not only distort the complexity of such an undertaking, but we also dangerously reinforce the notion that when it came to getting things done during the civil rights movement, the insiders were white and the outsiders were black. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially where the 1964 Civil Rights Act is concerned.
Just as vital to the bill’s success was another African-American leader. Another “Jr.,” he was far less well-known, precisely because he was so deep inside the process. His name was Clarence M. Mitchell Jr., and he was the chief Washington lobbyist for the NAACP during the extraordinarily heroic phase of the civil rights movement.
As far as I’m concerned, Mitchell was and remains the unsung hero of the 1964 law. You won’t see his face in many pictures. His focus was on the law and the finesse needed to ensure that the bill had enough votes to pass. Although the law has been studied and discussed in great detail over the past half-century, thankfully new works continue to shed light on it and its pivotal players. For giving Mitchell his due, we owe a debt to Todd Purdum, author of this year’s masterful anniversary account, An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties, and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As soon as I read Purdum’s book, I knew I wanted to dedicate my column on the Civil Rights Act to Mitchell.
Read the full article here.
Read more breaking news here.
More than a decade ago, when the young Nigerian writer Chimamanda
Ngozi Adichie was struggling to get her first novel, “Purple Hibiscus,” published, an agent told her that things would be easier “if only you were Indian,” because Indian writers were in vogue. Another suggested changing the setting from Nigeria to America. Ms. Adichie didn’t take this as commentary on her work, she said, but on the timidity of the publishing world when it came to unknown writers and unfamiliar cultures, especially African ones.
These days she wouldn’t receive that kind of advice. Black literary writers with African roots (though some grew up elsewhere), mostly young cosmopolitans who write in English, are making a splash in the book world, especially in the United States. They are on best-seller lists, garner high profile reviews and win major awards, in America and in Britain. Ms.
Adichie, 36, the author of “Americanah,” which won the National Book
Critics Circle Award for fiction this year, is a prominent member of an
expanding group that includes Dinaw Mengestu, Helen Oyeyemi, NoViolet Bulawayo, Teju Cole, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor and Taiye Selasi, among others.
There are reasons for the critical mass now, say writers, publishers and literature scholars. After years of political and social turmoil, positive changes in several African nations are helping to greatly expand the number of writers and readers. Newer awards like the Caine Prize for African Writing have helped, too, as have social media, the Internet and top M.F.A. programs. At the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, black writers with recent African roots will make up more than 10 percent of the fiction students come September. Moreover, the number of African immigrants in
the United States has more than quadrupled in the past two decades, to
almost 1.7 million.
Read full article here.
Read more Breaking News here.
Principal photography for Clement Virgo’s much-anticipated film adaptation of author Lawrence Hill’s award-winning bestseller, “The Book of Negroes,” is complete, as the project now moves into the next phase of the production process, with a MIPCOM premiere in Cannes set for Monday, October 13 as the opening night gala. (…)
Boasting one of the strongest female characters in recent fiction, the novel’s synopsis reads:
Abducted as an 11-year-old child from her village in West Africa and forced to walk for months to the sea in a coffle—a string of slaves— Aminata Diallo is sent to live as a slave in South Carolina. But years later, she forges her way to freedom, serving the British in the Revolutionary War and registering her name in the historic “Book of Negroes.”
This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own.
Aminata’s eventual return to Sierra Leone—passing ships carrying thousands of slaves bound for America—is an engrossing account of an obscure but important chapter in history that saw 1,200 former slaves embark on a harrowing back-to-Africa odyssey. Aunjanue Ellis stars as Aminata Diallo, while Cuba Gooding Jr. and Lou Gossett Jr. play Sam Fraunces and Daddy Moses respectively.
Gooding’s Fraunces is a freed slave from Jamaica who runs his namesake tavern (Fraunces Tavern), participates in several historical events, and later moves to Mount Vernon to run George Washington’s household.
Meanwhile, Daddy Moses is Moses ‘Daddy’ Wilkinson or Old Moses, an African American slave, and Methodist preacher in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone. Though blind and crippled, Wilkinson led a band of runaway slaves to freedom in 1776.
Also Lyriq Bent is playing Chekura, who, as a young boy, made the crossing with Aminata when she was sold into slavery, is separated from her, and later reunites with her when they are adults, and have a child together.
Allan Hawco is Solomon Lindo (a Jewish man Aminata is sold to), Ben Chaplin is Capt. John Clarkson (a young British naval officer recruiting black settlers to move from Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone); and Jane Alexander plays a Maria Witherspoon, the matriarch of a white family that Aminata leaves her baby with, for safety, during a series of riots that break out as the city she lives in is attacked and black men and women are lynched. She later returns to the Witherspoon’s home to claim her child, only to learn that they’ve left with the baby.
The adaptation of the novel will be a 6-hour TV mini-series.
To read the full article, click here.
To read more Breaking News, click here.
In 1961, 19-year-old Howard University student Hank Thomas embarked on a journey that would change interstate travel forever and inspire the birth of other movements. Thomas made a quick decision to join the Congress of Racial Equality’s Freedom Rides to travel from Washington, D.C., to the Deep South with several other young African Americans and whites.
The U.S. Supreme Court had struck down racial segregation on interstate buses in 1946 and expanded that decision in 1960 by outlawing segregated waiting rooms, lunch counters and restroom facilities for interstate passengers. However, both rulings were largely ignored in the Deep South. Freedom Riders risked their lives by traveling on buses through the South and, by doing so, challenged the federal government to enforce the law. Freedom Riders were beaten, lynched and arrested for the sake of justice. Thomas’ experience as a Freedom Rider was no exception.
Being a Freedom Rider isn’t Thomas’ only claim to fame, however, and his rebellious spirit isn’t by happenstance. The great-great-great-grandson of an outspoken slave, Thomas also played a part in working toward Freedom Summer’s goal of registering black people to vote in 1964.
Thomas, now retired at 73, owns two Marriott hotels and lives in Atlanta. He recounted to The Root his experiences as a Freedom Rider, the importance of remembering significant events like Freedom Summer and what black people should be doing to build upon progress already made.
Read full article here
More Breaking News here